Everyone has a role in their family.
Mine, unfortunately, is often “chauffeur.”
As the single guy living in the tourism capital of the world, with a family from the Midwest, I get to drive everyone around to the attractions and beaches when they visit. My siblings and cousins quickly use their children and traditional “9 to 5s” as excuses to volunteer me so I get the duty.
On those trips to Daytona, we’ll drive straight down I-4, past downtown Orlando, and past the Lee Road/Maitland area, all with little comment. But when we hit Seminole County, Cranes Roost, Longwood, Lake Mary, the relatives start getting interested. “What is this?” they’ll ask.
“This is Seminole County,” I’ll say. “The best place to build a family in Central Florida.”
And it is.
With a solid school system that’s been the region’s best for decades, quiet well-maintained communities, and an economic environment that’s creating jobs, Gov. Rick Scott chose it as the Central Florida stop during his re-election tour. It’s the best place to live in the area.
Some in Seminole County government, though, aren’t satisfied with that identity. They want tourism. They want to adopt the nickname “Orlando North.”
But that’s wrong and here’s why.
Some leaders say it will make Seminole County more competitive in Internet search rankings if it promotes tourism.
The SEO — Search Engine Optimization — competition is already too heavy and tourists still type “Orlando Hotels” when searching for places to stay. In politics, SEO revolves around the digital strategy used to identify candidates in races. If a subject gets too crowded or dense, it’s difficult for results to show up within the first couple of pages. Changing Seminole County to Orlando North won’t fix that.
Proponents want to be associated with our neighboring tourism district. That’s fine. But isn’t Orlando North kind of dishonest?
If a vacationing family books a hotel in Seminole County, how are they going to feel when they find themselves stupified by a 45-minute shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel? Then there’s the possibility of a 90-minute morning trip to the tourist district through our signature morning traffic jam as commuters head to downtown Orlando dodging I-4 construction. Then the family returns to the hotel in the evening only to find there’s no easily accessible entertainment nearby.
We’re not exactly International Drive up here.
Well, how about the name “Orlando North Seminole County”? Seriously?
The main drive for approving this lazy concept is because we spent taxpayer dollars for it. The county hired consultants from St. Petersburg, paid them thousands, and all they did was spin a compass and slap the direction to the nearest big city in the region. Keep in mind the county could have hired an ad firm from Seminole County, but chose not to. Even the “creative” logo looks like it could have been designed in 15 minutes.
The problem here isn’t just Orlando North, which will do nothing to solve the problem. It’ that we spent money and have to justify it. We got ripped off, and now we’ve got to sell it.
The bright side is that Seminole County already has so much going for it. In the previous years of growth, Seminole has done it right. Altamonte Springs has always been a great family entertainment choice for the locals. We’ve gone numb because we live here, but Lake Mary and Longwood really are beautiful places to drive through and visitors still realize that.
Jobs, education, and community: That’s what Seminole County is about.
It’s not about pretending to be something we’re not. Seminole County is better than that.
The Seminole County Commission should vote it down, and ask for something else.